Frappe vs Frappuccino – 5 Differences You Need To Know



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Frappes and Frappuccinos are two popular cold drinks, often enjoyed in the summer months.

They sound suspiciously similar, sometimes even look the same and are often confused. So what is actually the difference between a frappe vs frappuccino?

Today we’ll be talking you through the key difference between frappe and Frappuccino, so that next time you place your order or make it at home, you know exactly what you’re ordering. 

What is a Frappe? 

A Frappé (pronounced frap-pay) is an iced drink that has been shaken or blended. The end result is a refreshingly cool drink with a foamy texture and strong coffee taste.

Frappes can be a simple combination of water, coffee and ice, or can be customized with sugar, condensed milk, sweet syrups and sauces.

They are sometimes also served with whipped cream on top for extra indulgence.

Traditional greek cold coffee Frappe with foam made from water, instant coffee and ice cubes in glass

The Frappe History

The term “café frappé” can be traced back to 19th century Europe, though it seems that the coffee frappe we know today finds its origins in Greece.

The story is a pretty interesting one: it’s said that in 1957, at the International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki, a Nestlé employee was looking for a way to drink his usual instant coffee during his break, but could not find any hot water. 

Instead, he got creative and mixed the coffee with cold water and ice cubes in a shaker.

Little did he realise he would create a beverage that would go on to be marketed by Nestlé and sold by coffee companies around the world.

Greek Frappe vs Frappe from McDonalds

Just to confuse things a little more, McDonalds have their own version of a Frappe, which bears little resemblance to a traditional frappe and is much more like a Starbucks Frappuccino!

McDonalds do offer a few different frappe flavors (all which have coffee), like caramel frappe and mocha frappe, but nothing like the range of frappuccino flavors at Starbucks.

Frappe vs milkshake

And to cover off the final area of confusion, if you are asking what is the difference between a milkshake and a frappe, there are three key differences:

  • A frappe always includes coffee, whereas a milkshake is more commonly made with traditional flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.
  • A frappe does not include ice cream, whereas a milkshake does (unless you are from New England where it is the opposite!)
  • A milkshake is made from milk, whereas a frappe is made with cold water.

What is a Frappuccino? 

A Frappuccino is a little more complex than a frappe, and is more like a thick milkshake with coffee.

A Frappuccino usually consists of a combination of milk, flavor, vanilla ice cream and coffee, and more often than not topped with whipped cream and syrup. 

Frappuccino is a trademarked brand of the Starbucks Corporation and includes their line of highly-sweetened, iced, blended coffee drinks.

coffee frappuccino Starbucks on table next to white mug.

These consist of a coffee or crème base that is blended with ice and other various ingredients like flavored syrups then topped with a generous helping of whipped cream and potentially spices or chocolate powder.

Frappuccino History

While the term ‘Frappuccino’ today is automatically associated with Starbucks, the original Frappuccino drink was developed, named, trademarked and sold by George Howell’s Eastern Massachusetts coffee shop chain, The Coffee Connection.

It was created by then-employee Andrew Frank, and in 1994 when Starbucks purchased The Coffee Connection, they also gained the rights to use, make, market, and sell the Frappuccino drink.

In 1995 Starbucks unveiled a new version of the Frappuccino and to this day it has proven to be one of the coffee chain’s best-selling drinks. As of 2012, Starbucks had annual Frappuccino sales of over $2 billion! 

Starbucks’ frappuccino range consists of a huge range of different flavored drinks, with and without coffee, and alongside the classics you’ll also find limited edition or seasonal drinks.

Typical Starbucks frappuccinos include caramel and coffee varieties, as well as white chocolate, mocha, chocolate coffee crunch, and java chip. You can find the full menu on the Starbucks website.

5 differences between the frappe and Frappuccino 

There are 5 key differences between a frappe and Frappuccino:

  • Generic vs trademarked drink
  • The type of coffee used
  • The amount of caffeine in the drink
  • Calories in the drink
  • Where the drinks originate from

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Frappuccino is a specific drink trademarked by Starbucks

Frappuccinos are patented by Starbucks, and you won’t find them in other coffee shops – though you may find something similar under a different name. 

‘Frappe’ is a generic term for a blended cold drink and therefore, the drink can be made in different ways, some of which are strikingly similar to a Starbucks Frappuccino.

You’ll find frappes in many different cafes and coffee shops around the world, as it isn’t officially owned by anyone.

When Starbucks first invented the Frappuccino it was coffee-based, but soon enough it became customized to meet customer’s needs, and you’ll now find Frappuccinos that are completely coffee-free too. 

Starbucks hasn’t revealed the entire recipe for their Frappuccino, but generally, it involves blending ice and cream in a blender, and it’ll often contain syrups and will be topped with whipped cream. 

Frappuccino Coffee Chocolate Blended Beverages From Starbucks.

2. Frappe uses instant coffee, but Frappuccino is made with a unique blend

Even though both of these drinks are coffee-based (though Frappuccino doesn’t have to be), the coffee that is used in each can differ. 

Like we said earlier, the traditional frappe was first invented in the 1950s when a Greek Nestle worker experimented with their instant coffee.

To stay true to the original frappe, it’s best to use instant coffee. This also makes it super easy to recreate at home. 

A Frappuccino on the other hand often uses a trademarked Frappuccino roast blend.

You may also find an espresso Frappuccino – as Starbucks does offer an espresso-based Frappuccino, as well as a ‘coffee’ based Frappuccino.

3. Frappes always contain caffeine, but Frappuccinos don’t have to 

A classic frappe is made using instant coffee, so it’ll always contain caffeine (unless you use decaffeinated instant coffee).

Regardless, frappes always contain coffee of some sort, as the coffee flavor is characteristic of the drink.

Frappuccinos are more diverse, and they’re often drunk by non-coffee drinkers as they don’t have to contain coffee. 

The caffeine content of a frappe will depend on how much instant coffee you add.

A frappe recipe typically has 1 teaspoon of Nescafe coffee, equivalent to around 63 mg of caffeine.

Frappuccinos on the other hand may or may not contain caffeine. It depends on which flavor you choose. For example, Starbucks makes a Strawberry Frappuccino, and this has no caffeine as it contains no coffee. 

On the other hand, opt for a grande Starbucks’ Espresso Frappuccino and you’ll be indulging in 165 mg of caffeine according to their website. The drink uses both espresso and coffee, though we don’t know the exact proportions. 

The good news is that whether you’re a coffee lover or not, there are plenty of frappuccinos to choose from. 

different frappuccino matcha from Starbucks held up outside Starbucks store.

4. Frappuccinos contain lots of cream and sugar

There is no avoiding the fact that Frappuccinos are packed full of sugar, cream, sweeteners, syrups, and whipped cream, as well as other calorific ingredients, which means they often come with a high-calorie count.

You can customize your Frappuccino with skimmed, full-fat, or plant-based milk, and these will make a slight difference.

For example, Starbucks’ Strawberry Frappuccino contains 250 calories if you opt for a tall (12 fl oz/355 ml) 2% milk drink, topped with whipped cream.

The Espresso Frappuccino contains slightly fewer calories at 150 for a tall (12 fl oz/355 ml) drink with 2% milk and no whipped cream.

And the Chocolate Cream Frappuccino – a venti with skimmed milk will contain 324 kcal, with whole milk that increases to 370 kcal, and with almond milk, it’s 308 kcal. The fat and sugar content will also differ slightly. 

Even when you make a frappuccino at home, like this chocolate peppermint frappuccino recipe or the popular homemade caramel frapp, it is going to be pretty high in calories.

As for the Greek frappe recipe, it has next to no calories because instant coffee contains only a few calories, and most of the drink is water and ice.

A simple frappe can be made with added sugar, and milk or cream, which will obviously increase the calorie content. 

Note: Modern Frappes blended with ice cream and/or cream contain significantly higher calories. For example, the 12 oz McDonalds Mocha Frappe contains a whopping 420 calories.

Two glasses of greek frappe with plastic straws alongside a pool.

5. Frappes are more European 

It’s no surprise that the frappe is more popular in Europe, as it was first created in France and Greece.

You’ll commonly find frappes in Greece, as well as neighboring countries such as Cyprus, and much of Southern and Eastern Europe, too.

Even though the drink is less common in central and western Europe, you’ll still find it on menus, or you’ll find it under a different name such as an “iced coffee.” 

Frappe is less common in the U.S., and it’s often confused with the Frappuccino, though this is unsurprising considering there were 15,149 Starbucks stores recorded across the U.S. as of September 2019.

While Starbucks is extremely popular in countries such as the UK and Turkey, it’s less popular in countries such as Austria, Italy, and Serbia, explaining why the Frappuccino is less popular than the frappe here.

cold greek frappe coffee on table in tall glass in cafe.

Similarities between the Frappe and Frappuccino 

1. They’re both summer drinks 

Sure, you might see someone with a frappe or Frappuccino in their hand in winter, but you’re far more likely to notice people sipping them in the summer months.

Both frappes and Frappuccinos are iced drinks which makes them a great alternative to a hot cup of coffee during the warmer months. 

2. They’re both large drinks 

Frappuccinos and frappes are both large drinks – even at their smallest size. A Frappuccino is usually 12 oz/355 ml and a frappe is around 250 ml/8.5 oz.

Though obviously, you may be able to find them in different sizes. The bottom line is these drinks aren’t served in an espresso cup!

3. They can both be served with cream 

While frappes can be as simple as coffee, water, and ice, they can also be served with a scoop of ice cream and topped with whipped cream for a more indulgent twist on this classic coffee drink. 

This makes it very similar to a Frappuccino, which is commonly blended with cream and served with a dollop of whipped cream on top. 

Making a Frappe or Frappuccino at home 

While these drinks were originally made in a specific way, if you make them at home you have pretty much free reign when it comes to customizing your drink. 

While a frappe is typically made with instant coffee, you might prefer to make a frappe at home using fresh coffee or espresso instead, and you can even add milk, ice cream, or whipped cream if you prefer.

For a Frappuccino, you can go as simple or as complex as you wish – adding coffee or going caffeine-free, and experimenting with different flavors, syrups, milks, and cream.

Plant-based milks are becoming extremely popular, and you may wish to try making a frappe or Frappuccino with dairy alternatives such as oat milk, almond milk, or soy milk. 

You can blend your ingredients in a blender, or mix them by hand – adding ice at the beginning or end. 

You can also control how much sugar or fat you add to your drink, choosing to skip the fat-packed whipped cream or adding an extra helping – it’s entirely your choice! 

And if you are wondering about the sugar content in your favorite Frappuccino, this video is worth watching…

Frappe vs Frappuccino FAQs

Does a frappe have coffee in it?

Yes, a frappe includes coffee. Traditional frappe recipes use instant coffee powder. The frappe McDonalds makes uses coffee extract and many modern frappes use espresso or brewed coffee in place of instant coffee for a smoother flavor.

What is the correct frappe pronunciation?

The correct pronunciation of the term frappe is “fra-pay”.

Is Frappe short for Frappuccino?

No, the term Frappe is not short for Frappuccino. The term Frappuccino was originally a mashup of the two words “frappe” and “cappuccino” to describe a unique blended coffee drink made at Starbucks.

However the two drinks Frappe and Frappuccino both exist and are different types of coffee drinks.

Final Say 

While frappes and Frappuccinos often get confused with one another, these two coffee drinks are surprisingly different. 

In summary, Frappuccinos are specific to Starbucks and usually contain sugar and cream, whereas frappes are a more European drink that tends to be simpler and consists of instnt coffee, water, and ice.

Frappes will always contain coffee – usually the instant kind – whereas Frappuccinos can be made with or without coffee.

Which is your favorite – the simple Greek frappe or indulgent American Frappuccino? If you’ve only tried one, or you’ve yet to try either, now’s your chance! 

Find more coffee brew guides here or why not try one of our easy coffee recipes!

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Images of frappuccino and frappe with text overlay Frappe vs frappuccino.
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Rachel Rodda

It's no surprise that as a former barista and founder of Creators of Coffee, I'm obsessed with all things coffee. I love to share easy and delicious coffee recipes, expert brewing tips and helpful coffee gear reviews with my fellow coffee lovers!

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